Here is a Q & A with US and Canadian immigration lawyer Andy Semotiuk on current US immigration issues. Topics include:
- US immigration reform
- Impact of US Supreme Court gay marriage decision
- Investor immigration
Now that the immigration reform bill has passed through the US Senate, what has to happen next for it to become law?
The House of Representatives must pass a bill along the same lines as the one passed by the Senate. The Speaker of the House, John Boehner, indicated that the House would not take up the Senate bill as passed, but instead will want to pass its own version of a bill. This is because unlike the Senate, where Democrats are the majority, in the House Republicans are the majority. They do not want to simply pass a bill that was adopted by a Democratic Senate. The Republicans are more inclined to favour security measures than the Democrats, and they see immigration reform mainly as plugging the holes in the current legislation.
At any rate, once they pass a bill that is within reach of what the Senate has passed, representatives of both houses must meet in a conference committee to settle their differences and present a new unified bill to Obama for signing. That is the road still ahead.Do you think a bill has a chance to make it through the House of Representatives? What has to happen to make it possible?
The House will pass a bill most likely favouring Republican values. The challenge will be whether the House can pass a bill sufficiently similar to the Senate one that it can be unified with the Senate bill in conference committee to be made law. I believe there is sufficient momentum for this to happen. We will have a new immigration law in the USA by the end of this year.
What effect has the US Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage had on US immigration matters?
As of the date of that Supreme Court decision, gay sponsors can sponsor their gay partners to immigrate to the United States. This is already happening. Anyone who is gay and is in this situation would be very wise to act fast. If immigration reform is passed, there will be a tidal wave of new immigration applications filed by the 11 million illegal immigrants in the USA. This will overwhelm the already cut back workforce in the US Citizenship and Immigration Service, who went through cutbacks resulting from the US going over the “fiscal cliff” not long ago.
Can you give us an update on investor immigration possibilities in the US? What are you hot for right now?
In the investor immigration field, the EB-5 program involving regional centres continues to be the hottest immigration program in the USA and the quota of investors is likely to fill up soon for this fiscal year. Investors investing $500,000 can get green cards within about a year and an half under the program and it is very popular.